I love to see the end of a project, like this Christmas cottage—but my favorite part is the process. It's fun to watch the gingerbread, icing and candy decorations come together creatively. —Johanna Rosson, Fort Hood, Texas
- 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup corn syrup
- 1/4 cup butter, cubed
- 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Waxed paper and parchment paper
- 3 butterscotch candies, crushed
- 1-1/2 teaspoons water
- Red and green paste food coloring
- New paintbrush
- ICING AND ASSEMBLY:
- 3-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 tablespoons water
- Pastry tipsround tips #4 and #2, star tip #14
- Gold dragee, edible glitter, cardboard cake circle (8 inches), frosted bite-size Shredded Wheat, peppermint candy sticks, small jelly beans, milk chocolate M&M, miniature candy canes, jumbo heart sprinkles, jumbo gumdrops, red licorice, butterscotch candies, pretzel rods and jumbo peppermint stick
- To make dough: In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, corn syrup and butter. Cook and stir over medium heat until butter is melted. Combine the flour, cinnamon, ginger and salt; stir into brown sugar mixture (mixture will be stiff). Transfer to a small bowl. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle.
- Trace patterns onto waxed paper; cut out. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-in. thickness. Position patterns on dough and cut out. Using a sharp knife, score outlines to mark windows and door where indicated on pattern, being careful not to cut all the way through dough. Using a toothpick, draw lines into dough to form bricks on all pieces except door area and roof. (Keep pieces covered to prevent them from drying out.)
- Transfer all cutouts to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes or until browned. Immediately replace patterns on cutouts and cut around edges to trim excess. Cut out windows completely. Cool on pans for 2 minutes before carefully removing to wire racks to cool completely.
- Return front of house to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spoon 1 teaspoon crushed candies into each window cutout. Bake at 400° for 3-4 minutes or until candy is melted. Cool completely on baking sheet before removing.
- Tint water with desired amount of red food coloring. Using paintbrush, paint mixture over each piece except door area and roof; blot gently with paper towels and let dry.
- To make icing: In a large bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, meringue powder and cream of tartar. Add water; beat on low speed just until combined. Beat on high for 4-5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Keep icing covered at all times with a damp cloth.
- To assemble frame of house: Working with a small amount of icing at a time, wipe icing over bricks using your fingertip. Immediately wipe gently with paper towels to remove excess.
- Place front of house on a flat surface. Tint a small amount of icing green and a small amount red. Cut a small hole in the corner of a pastry or plastic bag; insert #4 round pastry tip. Fill the bag with white icing. Pipe lines to trim door and windows, and to form windowpanes. For door knob, attach dragee with icing.
- Using a #14 star tip and green icing, pipe garland along windows and a wreath on door. Using a #2 round tip and red icing, pipe berries on garland and a bow and berries on wreath. Pipe additional details as desired; sprinkle immediately with glitter. Let dry completely.
- Pipe icing along base and one side of front of house and the adjoining side wall. Place walls at right angles to each other on cake circle; prop with small cans. Pipe icing along inside and outside edges for added stability. Repeat with second side section and back. Let dry completely.
- For chimney: Pipe icing along one side of front of chimney and one adjoining side wall. Position at right angles to each other and place on waxed paper; pipe icing along inside edge for added stability. Hold in place until secure. Repeat with remaining sides. Let dry completely.
- To assemble roof: Generously pipe icing along top edges of house. Position roof pieces so there is equal overhang in front and back. Pipe icing along the joining edges. Prop bottoms of roof pieces with cans until roof is completely dry.
- On left roof piece, position chimney 1-3/4 inches from the front and 1-3/4 inches down from the top. Pipe dots of icing to mark the position of bottom chimney corners. Pipe icing onto the edges of chimney and attach to roof. Hold in place until secure, about 1 minute. Let dry completely. Center cap of chimney over chimney top, leaving a small overhang on all sides; attach with icing.
- To decorate roof: With tip #4, pipe icing along bottom of chimney side of roof. Press five Shredded Wheat pieces into icing in a row; repeat to cover both roof pieces. On one roof piece, pipe a line of icing along top row of Shredded Wheat; press a candy stick into icing. Repeat on other side.
- Attach four Shredded Wheat pieces along the peak of the roof with icing; arrange jelly beans along peak and an M&M at the front gable. Shape two miniature candy canes into a heart shape; attach to roof. Decorate as desired with heart sprinkles and additional icing.
- For finishing touches: Cover cake circle with icing. For shrubs, immediately place gumdrops in front of house. Spread with green icing; pipe berries with red icing.
- For sidewalk, attach red licorice pieces in front of door; place butterscotch candies for stepping stones. Brush licorice with a small amount of water; sprinkle with glitter. Break pretzel rods into pieces; stack at side of house for firewood. For smoke, carefully cut the jumbo peppermint stick to desired length; attach to chimney cap with icing. Hold in place until secure, about 1 minute. Yield: 1 gingerbread cottage.
Originally published as “Home Sweet Home” Gingerbread Cottage in Country Woman December/January 2010, p20
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Reviewed Nov. 28, 2012
"This is an example of a well written set of recipes & directions published in 'Country Woman' Dec/Jan 2010, p20. It is intended to be one of several 'Houses' for the Season. Details are great!"